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H (2002) [Aug. 4th, 2005|08:00 pm]
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I watched H last night. It must have been a big deal when it was made. Jong-hyuk Lee's film featured a long process of training for two actors and an actress. The three detectives in H used this training for an elaborate public relations stunt which they performed. The film itself was interesting.

I noticed at least one comment on IMDB about how the film featured females in the film as calm and collected, while the men were anxious and dissheveled. People who thought this about the film didn't look closely. It was a character-driven story which went deeper than some blanket statement about the sexes.

Detective Kim Mi Yun (Jung-ah Yum) experienced a tragic loss of a dectective with which she was in a relationship. Detective Han had become unravelled by the sadistic work of serial killer Shin Hyun (Seung-woo Cho). Han (Eol Lee) committed suicide, which left Kim in the wake of what began as the hazy shade of winter in her life. We find her in this mostly cold and reserved state at the beginning of the story.

Detective Park (Ji-ru Sung) was a veteran in the department with Kim and Han, and he is the typical lifer detective. He plays a character who, by his own admission in a bar, is comfortable with the distinction of being one of the "stupid detectives." He will go on at length about "smart criminals" with distaste. He enjoys his drinks and his food, and he tries, but he never tries too hard. He is the perfect munincipal detective.

Detective Kang Tae Hyun (Jin-hee Ji) is a newcomer to the department. He is youthful and full of emotion, but he sees the world like many young adults view it . . . he reacts, and he categorizes in black and white. At the beginning of the story, we see him show up late for an appointment with the other two at a dumpster to investigate a body discovered among the trash.

Shin Hyun (Seung-woo Cho) is the key to the mystery. The man walked into the munincipal police headquarters and dumped a duffle bag filled with carnage on to the desk of Han, who previously tried in vain to catch the criminal. Hyun, sentenced to death for his grotesque crimes against women, holds a connection between a series of copycat murders in the city. The detectives suspect that he is part of a cabal of offenders. The police cannot pinpoint the entire scope of the motive for the murders, but the department feels certain that there is more to the crimes than what appears on the surface.

The detectives grapple with the necessity to bring the murderers to justice as soon as possible. Caught between necessity to catch the criminal or criminals involved in the copycat murders, they also face subtle pressure from the department and the very nature of police work. Police forces use economy whenever possible in every investigation of crime. To allow cases to continue, especially high profile threats that exist readily in the public mind, it would be catastrophic to the ability of the the local law enforcement in their efforts to keep the peace. Even Park mentions that he dislikes the crimes committed by "smart criminals," as mentioned in the bar scene. He would rather move on to more cases with less-clever criminals to catch, as they outnumber the ranks of the more intelligent, deadly, and elusive killers.

H would vaguely connect in mysterious theme, cinematography, and psychological overtone found in Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.

The film suffers from a common affliction found in films of great ambition. A handful of moments feel skimmed, as if they should not have been included in the film. At times, the film has been reported by some to drag. To those interested in film, the pacing, in other words, may be a bit imperfect. I found the film to be rather engaging, and if there were any complaints of poor acting by the trio of detectives or the main serial killer, then I couldn't validate those claims. The actors and actresses played their characters well, for what they were meant to be.

Tartan Films listed a number of interesting films in a lineup in the special features. I noticed Old Boy was included in the lineup, and I have noticed some positive reviews for the company's films.